Aarti’s After Party: Go Bold or Go Home

by in Food Network Star, May 27, 2012

Aarti Sequeira won Food Network Star season 6 and expanded her popular blog into a cooking show, Aarti Party (catch it on Food Network, Sundays at 7:30am/6:30c). As a Star veteran watching from her couch at home, Aarti shares her insider’s take on what went down each week.

When I asked you guys what you thought of this new format a couple of weeks ago, some of you opined that it allowed the “weaker” contestants to hide behind the “stronger” ones. Well, this was the week for you.

For the first time, instead of competing as teams, it was every man for him (or her) self. And judging by the contestants’ performance this week, this paradigm shift did a number on them. Until now, these folks were teammates, brothers-in-arms if you will, cheering each other across the finish line, consoling one another when a fellow soldier didn’t think he or she could make it. In a blink of any eye, the brothers-in-arms were forced to opposite sides of the battlefield.

No wonder so many faltered. I was shocked at the ripple of insecurity toppling many of the Goliaths in this pack: Martita’s characteristic fieriness diminished to a very polite flicker. Emily’s Zooey Deschanel-like quirkiness lacked pop. And Martie? Oh how my heart broke for her, as we watched her insecurities threaten to drown her Southern charm.

Ah, but the intrigue! Others, whose quiet presence I had perhaps mistaken for weakness, took long strides to the front of the pack, making me wonder how I had overlooked them in the first place. Linkie positively shone, with a one-two punch of pitch-perfect delivery and food. Eric, whose resolve to make practically everything from scratch has left me both awe-inspired and nursing an ulcer as the clock ticks away, was elegance personified, both in presentation and on the plate. Hey, when Alex Guarnaschelli tells you she wants to lick your plate clean, that is high praise indeed.

I tried to remember what it is like three weeks into the competition. The novelty of it all is starting to wear off. You’re tired. You are really starting to miss your family. But you’re also starting to forget what “normal” life is like; I mean, the only reason you wake up in the morning is to compete in yet another challenge or face a heart-pounding evaluation. You don’t know how long your day is going to go or what it’s going to consist of. Your emotions are all over the place (not to mention your digestive system!), and you have very little idea what’s going on outside of this Food Network world because you’re quarantined from the Internet, TV and newspapers. What or who is important starts to shift without you even knowing it. Living under a microscope starts to take its toll — paralysis by self-analysis. No wonder your confidence feels wobbly.

Having dealt with confidence issues all the way through Food Network Star, I get it. When Bob told Yvan that, rather than give in to being overwhelmed by the panel of culinary greats seated before him (Scott Conant, Alex, Marc Murphy, the mentors and the Network), he had to feel like he was equal to them, I smiled. He had said the same thing to me. It felt like an impossible switch to make in my mind, or at least impossible in the few weeks we had ahead of us.

Some of you may not relate to Martie’s insecurity about her age, but don’t we all have something we’re insecure about? That one thing that we think, well, if I just had that taken care of, then I’d be all set and I’d really soar? When our head is on straight, we know it isn’t true. But after three weeks of competing, taking harsh judgment and feeling your emotions tugged in all sorts of directions? Those insecurities suddenly seem to have a much larger hold on you. I think this is something we can all relate to, whether you’re competing on one of the biggest cooking competitions on American television or slugging away at your career, your college degree, raising your children, living your life, chasing your dreams, whatever.

So what’s the answer? Ultimately, the very thing that Susie and Bob were asking of the contestants: Be bold. When you start to quiver in your boots, you’re saying, "Hey, I don’t think this is a good idea, either." I believe in destiny, in my Maker having written the plan already. So even when I feel like I have everything to lose, I have to remind myself that there’s nothing I can do to change the outcome; I just have to catch up to it. So why not be bold and roar? You have everything to gain, so go bold or go home – even if you have to fake it. It worked for me!

What did you all think?

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Comments (268)

  1. Tucker says:

    Hey Aarti, When are we going to get to see new episodes of Aarti's Party?????? Stop slacking girl!

  2. Kathy K says:

    You would have thought that Michelle would have done much better than she did since she was on Chopped once already. If fact it was aired just last week.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Yes, i agree. Scott applauded her whipped cream component. However, I thought Michelle would have been more confident in her verbal presentation than she was. I guess she was too freaked out by her attraction to Giada.

      • BeeGee says:

        I agree that Michelle should have done much better since she was on Chopped before and also Scott Conant's show 24-Hour-Restaurant, also on Food Network. Speaking of Scott, he had recently trimmed down physically and looked so good. Has he gained it back? And I wish he would shave. He is so handsome without those dreadful whiskers. Okay, I know this thread isn't about him, but he is one of the many reasons I like Food Network, especially when he is a judge on Chopped!

  3. monk says:

    I enjoyed watching Josh, sorry to see him go

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Hi Monk, I'm pretty sure he mentioned the name of his band on the shows. Maybe they have a facebook page or website that has info on when/where they perform or tour or if they have anything up on YouTube. I'd be curious to see how he does at his 'day job' (well, night job) because it seemed that's where his true passion lies.

      PS Not sure why people would give you thumbs down...different contestants appeal to different folks, what's wrong with that? He wasn't a loudmouth jerk or conniving snake like some recent NFNS wanna bes I can think of and while not my preferred 'type' wasn't bad to look at!

  4. Fmcfoodie says:

    Is it me ... Or has Linky only made desserts up to this point? Also Michelle is one-hellava-cook but unfortunately doesn't seem to grab my attention- personality wise I'm still not seeing it!

    • Antoinette says:

      We would also like to see her do more than desserts. I do not think she was allowed to make anything else than desserts this far and I know she can cook!

  5. Jimmy says:

    This was a great episode, but Alton was once again a horse's behind. He was over the top with Martie (tough love can be a motivator, but he was just being cruel) and as usual he came off as completely condescending, especially towards Giada. It's understandable that not everyone will get along in any working environment, but at least you could keep it genial for the cameras.

    • FanFare57 says:

      Alton popped his proverbial cork when he flipped out with Martie. I thought his bow tie was going to fly across the room and hit her in the face.

    • Freelens says:

      You guys do know this is an entertainment show right? That's his roll and I think he plays it very well.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Being a condescending jackass? Well, I guess if that's what he agreed to, but IMO not every competition needs a Simon Cowell wannabe. As for Alton's 'roll', maybe he should stick to poppy seed.

    • Mona says:

      These people are ADULTS that are supposed to know how to cook......not children being pampered! Martie needs to shut-up, she rambles about stuff that has nothing to do with her food and really doesn't seem to know that much about cooking at all.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Alton must have seen something in her or he wouldn't have picked her on his team. I doubt he'd get that frustrated if he didn't know she was capable of doing better. Unless of course he was just grandstanding in front of his FN posse for 'entertainment' value in which case Martie, who admirably kept her sh** together after being so harshly humiliated (the other panelists were even in shock at her reaming out), was the true adult in that instance.

  6. Grandma Joyce says:

    Good comments thus far. Good luck, Josh. Each person, though not a final winner, can go home with a sense of "wow, I was a contestant on Food Network Star". From our homes we see little bits of the difficulty, which Aarti told us of in greater detail. I couldn't do it, the planning, executing, and presenting, all under pressure. So, hats off to each one.
    I do agree, seems alittle unfair to have contestants who have already had trial runs on other shows compete in this. They may need to review this in the future.
    I have developed many food allergies and must cook from scratch so Eric's concept is one I would watch and learn from.
    Linkie did very well, proud of her. Ippy did great again. I missed parts of the show, so did not see Emily compete. Malcolm's nerves may be getting to him, I don't think we have seen the real deal, too bad, time is so short to shine here.
    Again, thank you, Food Network, for opening up this blog and allowing us to share our comments.

  7. Hollywood says:

    Episode 3 was a major plus for me. To that point I was having a problem picking a star whose show I'd, 1)stop to watch if I were channel surfing or 2) I'd plan to set aside time to watch. Emily showed me that star in "Chopped". I think she is the deal and I'd follow her show...

    • barb says:

      Emily if we were back in 50's...not really interested in her show or her ideas...would not watch her.

  8. Suspicious says:

    I think Alton was perfectly correct in his remarks to Martie. She talks and doesn't say anything, and she doesn't seem able to cook either. Justin didn't impress me either. He's definitely more ego than talent, but he seems to have Susie and Bob fooled.

    • GrammtKS says:

      I agree with you 100%. After all this is a competition and Alton wants to win with his team. Martie doesn't seem to take all this seriously. I'm not sure she has the cooking expertise or imagination that it takes to be a star.

    • Food Fan says:

      So far, I'm not impressed with Justin. More ego than talent is right. Does he EVER smile? He barely does at all in his own video. And, you would think that a restaurant owner would know better than to leave chocolate kisses in foil while heating them up. That was weird. He may have made a good dish, and if he did, he deserves credit for it. But there is nothing about *him* that makes me wanna watch at all.
      On the other hand, Martie, I wonder about her cooking. Is it good enough? I was surprised how Alton used such a take-no-prisoners approach with her. But the clock was ticking and she *does* need to focus. I do hafta say, Martie is remarkably good in how well she takes criticism! But I dont wanna hear her bring up age again, either. It really interesting, thinking about it right now, how Justin and Martie are somewhat opposites. If Justin made a good dish, his personality just doesnt do it for me at all. Dull. And if Martie is more perky, I'm waiting for her to knock it outta the park with something she makes.

      • Sandy says:

        I think he doesn't smile because of his teeth. You know if you feel you don't have a nice smile, sometimes, it makes a person not wanna show their teeth. I think he is attractive. He's very confident. I don't know if he's being arrogant. Haven't seen enough of him yet to determine that.

        And yes, I don't know if Martie can cook really great...but she does have a fun personality, but that won't be enough. She was funny when she said everyone there was so young, but she was the only attractive one there.

      • akrock says:

        does she just bring up her age hoping to hear someone say "you look great and look like you are in your thirties" I agree enough with the age thing.

        • Jerilee says:

          I think she's self conscious because she doesn't look like she's in her 30's. The other 4 contestants in their 40's don't look it. But, as you sat, enough. I hope she doesn't mention it again!!

        • FanFare57 says:

          To akrock: I also thought Marti was fishing for compliments. It makes her seem insecure. btw: I think she looks over 50 - not there is anything wrong with that (being in that age range myself).

    • FanFare57 says:

      Whether Justin has fooled Susie and Bob wasn't relevant in the Chopped challenge. The 3 Chopped judges didn't know him from a hole in the wall. They all LOVED his dessert based on the end product. Scott, Marc and Alex were neutral.

      • beachinfrizzy says:

        Speaking of Scott, Marc and Alex, could Alex have been any more of a sourpuss? What was that cynical "I don't trust this camaraderie" crack on Bobby's team's bantering all about? It seemed to me the teammates were just trying to break the tension among themselves, not trip each other up. But maybe that's how she operates. And wasn't Geoffrey Zakarian among them too...I don't remember him saying anything at all, and as the Next Iron Chef I'd think his opinion would carry the most weight.

        • FanFare57 says:

          Yes, I noticed also Alex's negative demeanor. (Maybe, that's her "roll" - a crab apple.) Geoffrey was not on the panel. Marc Murphy was the third Musketeer on the judges' panel.

          • beachinfrizzy says:

            But didn't they have to make 9 servings? Marc, Alex, Scott; Alton, Bobby,Giada; and Bob and Susie... I assumed Geoffrey was the 9th. Guess the 9th was the display model, now that I think about it. And where was Ted Allen??? Scott was pretty lame as a 'host', IMO.

          • beachinfrizzy says:

            "Crab apple"...heee. A nice poppy seed roll is my favorite and always makes me happy, that's why I mentioned that for Alton.

          • FanFare57 says:

            Your previous comment calling Alton a condescending jackass made me laugh out loud.

          • Jerilee says:

            You sure need a lot of those rolls to make someone happy!

    • Jerilee says:

      I saw nothing wrong with Alton telling her to shut up and cook. She was supposed to be cooking! If, as Alton said, you can't do both then do the one that is going to win...cook!!!

      • FanFare57 says:

        Interestingly, I noticed that when Alton wants to correct his charges for the camera, he speaks in a low keyed, calm tone. However, with Marti and her age rambles, he lost all control of himself and shrieked at her. With that hissy fit, he simultaneously chastised her AND separated himself FROM her. It was tantamount to saying, "I'm not really WITH her". He could have made his point in a less hysterical way.
        I guess his bow tie is too tight. It cut his circulation off at the neck. "And thar he blows..."

  9. Grammy Karen says:

    This was the most entertaining Food Network show I have ever watched!! It is great to see all the personalities of the Stars and contestants come out under pressure! I was like Scott Conant, I laughed through the whole thing. I love Food Network and watch more hours on this network than any other on tv.
    I think it is still too early to see who will evolve into a clear winner. They are all still trying to get their legs under them with all the changes in their lives and getting comfortable with the challenges they face. The average person would have folded before they even became a contestant, I know I would. I admire all the contestants for their courage and wish them all well. I haven't made up my mind yet if I like this format more than the old one, however, I'm finding it more entertaining and I like the involvement of the stars. There is one negative comment I will make, the contestants should concentrate on their own performances and not comment on the others, it's offputting. It gives me a negative feeling toward them. I always tend to pick the upbeat contestants who don't mae negative comments about the others and want them to win.

  10. Lisa says:

    Martie should have gone home. She hasn't made one memorable dish. Josh was annoying but they liked his dishes.

    • JLF says:

      Not his Chopped dish - Scott said it needed a warning that the popcorn could break a tooth. They praised his ambition, but not the outcome.

    • beachinfrizzy says:

      Not true, the judges raved about Martie's pastrami puff last week, and it wasn't that the s'more didn't taste good, they just thought it was too simple (something the mentors apparently were willing to overlook last week with Yvan's cheese-ball-on-a-stick). Granted her "Chopped" presentation was rambling but she improved for her 'cook for your life' segment. Josh didn't and his food hasn't been all that for 3 straight weeks...too late for a well-seasoned meatball to save him.

      • Cindy F says:

        She didn't improve for the cook for you life part. She never even stated what she cooked in the end. She lost complete track of time and simply held up the food at the last second and said something like "this is what I cooked with the grill" without even stating what it was.

        Based on the final cook for your life challenge where her food was also bad, she should have went home. However, I am not really all that upset this time that the weaker person in that particular round stayed considering Josh as fun and likable as he might be when the camera is not rolling, is a disaster in front of the camera and in a normal season, he would have been sent home before episode three.

        • beachinfrizzy says:

          We'll agree to disagree. I tuned in late and missed Alton's team's presentation. When I watched her 'cook for your life' I thought it wasn't that bad (compared to Josh) even though she rushed at the end, and wondered what she had done earlier to land herself there. Then when I watched it from the beginning on DVR and saw her Chopped segment...yikes, that was a hot mess for sure. So IMO going from absolute disaster to 'still needs work' is an improvement albeit a small one. And since she wasn't in the bottom previously I'm glad that she gets another chance. This was Josh's 3rd strike.